Building Gloucester’s hipfrastructure

Good News! Gloucester’s city government along with some other wheeling and/or dealing has saved Cape Pond Ice. This is indeed welcome because it’s going to allow ‘The Coolest Guys in Town’ to  make their evolving business model work better. It must be hella tempting for them to move almost everything but their core fishing related stuff to one of their off-Cape Ann locations. We can only imagine running a bagged ice delivery service from a town with water rates comparable to those on Arrakis from a facility off the end of one peninsula which is itself off of yet another peninsula adds up to something of a pain in the ass.

Like, four people are laughing right now

Like, four people are laughing right now

You’ll hear no snark from us around Cape Pond Ice. What we do want to toss out is a gentle reminder that there is more than one kind of critical infrastructure in Gloucester requiring maintenance. No,  not potholes, complaining about them provides 60% of the content for online message boards thereby generating economic activity in the thriving “yelling at things impotently” sector. And we’re not talking about the natural gas infrastructure which is being panic-replaced every time someone smells a dogfart. We assume the whole town is one carelessly discarded cigarette away from going up like Krakatoa.

does this mean Fiesta is off?

does this mean Fiesta is off?

No, we’re talking about the hipfrastructure. “What is this, you ask?” searching for yet another cloying mollusk-related pun. The hipfrastructure consists of the available resources in any given place to support the other kind of “cool”. The cool that collapses like a quantum waveform when you try and measure it. At some level everyone is cool. We ourselves like to don our navel-high dad jeans, hop in the front seat of the minivan and crank up some Spin Doctors to show the kids just how cool we really are (we are not cool).

For the purposes of this argument we’re going to define ‘cool’ as culturally edgy; pushing boundaries of the artistic, business, service, technology, science and education fields. The people who make those kinds of advances happen to be of a certain stripe that social scientist Richard Florida defined in “The Rise of the Creative Class”, a little dated these days, but then again Gloucester is still waiting for an Indian restaurant so it may not be a bad model for us to examine.

What still holds true from Florida’s premise is this: In the old days the only way most cities and towns could develop economically would be to  to bring in a large employer, usually a factory. That factory would serve as the economic engine, not just for jobs in the plant but ancillary and support businesses along with the eateries and shops and teachers and mechanics to provide services for the employees and each other. In return the company would become patrons of the library and the arts community, they would put benches in the park and build wings on the hospital. This is the ‘economic development’ most of us are used to.

[Aside: we should note that one of the many freaktacular things about Gloucester is that even without a huge monolithic factory the insane level to which the existing business and individuals here support the city and its people (especially kids). Just look at any public space in town and just see the number of plaques, engraved bricks, memorial benches and ‘thank you’ boards and you get the idea. IT’S AMAZING!!]

In the new way, it’s backwards. You build the cool shit first: You have to have a great library, a thriving arts community, good education, groovy restaurants and bars, decent health care and things like farmer’s markets, yoga studios and festivals. Because you have this amazing stuff people want to be a part of your city and then they themselves decide to open business and live there. Cool people are like geese, they like to cluster together but without all the poop (hopefully).

You wind up with a lot of smaller but more cutting-edge outfits,  providing diversity and making you less vulnerable to the cycles and crashes of any particular industry. All this from starting out with a few groovy cafes, a brew pub, an organic grocer, a bike store and some interesting art happenings. Amazingly this leads to Internet startups, independent graphic design firms and 3D printing labs.

This very thing happened in another industrial city that had fallen on hard times but was full of interesting people who loved the shit out of it. And now Portland Oregon is one of the most dynamic cities in the country, responsible to two things we could not exist without: The Leatherman Tool and The Decemberists . No more need be said.

A quick thought experiment:

Knowing all this, imagine the City of Gloucester could dedicate 500 large to stimulate economic development in town. Would it be better to: A) build a manufacturing facility that mass produces those novelty plastic helmets that hold two cans of beer with associated tubing, or B) Turn Empire on Main Street into an outfit called ‘Tandori Tattoo and Terrarium”, a combination Indian restaurant, body art studio and emporium featuring those tiny little trees and plants in jars.

there is also a toad who drinks PBR

there is also a toad who drinks PBR

We all know what the manufactory brings: jobs, taxes, some other economic activity generated around their industry and employees and that is all good. You won’t hear us complaining about that.

But assuming the T^3 place employs the same number of folks HOW MUCH MORE AWESOME WOULD THIS BE?. And the biggest point of difference from the tailgate-helmet place is this: People will talk about it. They won’t shut up, in fact, because it would be amazeballs and folks will share pictures and reviews of it on Instagram and FaceBook followed with pictures of their weeners on SnapChat because that’s what people do. The Internet is weird.

And it won’t just be once. Every time someone asks, “Dude, where did you get that sick ink of Shiva holding a Bonsai tree?” It will make people want to check it out. Folks with no previous association to Gloucester will show up, walk around, see all the other cool things going on in town, much of it already here, and think, “You know what? This might be just the place for my combination taxidermy museum and robot makerspace”. And so it goes.

So, you may think that this leads to just having a bunch of annoying artsy types mincing around and there is little benefit to that unless you sell clove cigarettes and vintage lunchboxes. Here is the magic that Portland figured out: Larger companies look for cool places to locate because that’s where they can attract the most cutting-edge workers. You can’t staff any modern industry without employees who are versed in technology and the best kind of people for a 21st century enterprise are those who are creative and independent in the way they think. You only find these people clustered together in places with hipfrastructure. The  hipsters themselves are simply a sign your hip ecology is healthy, like seeing frogs in a pond or something. Frogs with moustaches. Playing banjos. You get the idea.

more horrifying than the Sting pic? Discuss

more horrifying than the Sting pic? Discuss

So the lesson is that in ice as in life, cool matters and we should support both.

Also: Natural gas lines. Fix that shit now. Holy crap, people we’re all going to die.


Wicked Tuna Recap – “Blue Grit”

Also check out KT’s recap of Wicked Tuna episode “Bad Latitude” to hear her describe the reeling. So much reeling. 

Here we are, finally, with another episode of Wicked Tuna. If you haven’t read the previous week’s episode recap, this is the deal: I live in Gloucester but know NOTHING about fishing. Nada. Zip. I work inside and the sun burns my retinas if I stay outside too long. I know practically zero fishermen. I’ve also never watched Wicked Tuna before we started this blog, so this is going to be a fun ride. So after the last episode I recapped, I have learned “people catch gigantic tuna in relatively small boats by hand and they’re worth a lot of money”, but that’s the limit of my tuna fishing knowledge. There’s a bunch of boats and a leaderboard that keeps track of who makes the most money. This episode starts out on the Miss Sambvca where one guy is mad and wants to quit because they’re losing money and the other guy drives like Stevie Wonder. Oh wait, they’re brothers. Okay. The bad driver brother has the most Boston accent I’ve ever heard. It’s epic, and should be recorded for all of history so we never forget.

Terrible driver, amazing freakin' accent.

Terrible driver, amazing freakin’ accent.

Now we’re on the, with the guy I’ve seen at Seaside Graphics now and again making fun of last year’s winners, The Pinwheel, a.k.a Stonerboat.  Stonerboat is my favorite so far. Literally everyone on this boat has three-day beard growth, shaggy hair, and glassy eyes. They look like they fell off a boat cruise featuring a Bob Marley cover band and are now fishing for sustenance. Another drama slow-mo shot of a majestic seagull. No. We’ve gone over this, seagulls are basically pigeons but bigger and hang out near the ocean. Clearly no one watching this has ever had their garbage torn apart and strewn across their driveway by hungry shitbag seagulls or they would punch their TVs in unison. Sorry, Joey C.



Now we’re on the Hard Merchandise (pronounced “Haaaahd Mehhchandise”). All I know about this boat is that it sank a couple years ago down the Marine Railways and the captain is in serious back pain and looks like he really likes the Doobie Brothers. “To be successful, you can’t let things slow you down.” More fountains of brilliant philosophy on this show. Back on Stonerboat, there’s some middle school drama catfight going on between them and the Tuna.Com, and there’s some Split Screen Action with Dramatic Music for a few agonizing minutes. Both get fishies on their linesies and shout things like “We need this!” Well yeah, because that’s how you make money, Captain Obvious. Stonerboat’s line breaks, and they all hit the Dissapointment Bong. F/V Tuna catches one and at one point someone jabs it with the handle of a hockey stick. Seriously. I half-expected to hear a whistle and a ref calling someone for a spearing penalty.



I’m not sure I love Stonerboat anymore because right now this total bro is talking about “boosting” this and “boost” that and holy shit if I hear the term “boost” one more time I will lose my sympathy for those struggling in the fishing industry. I literally think that “boost” is some kind of drug slang with the kids these days that I don’t understand. The captain, who is most likely a sophomore in high school, is irritated as fuck at Boost Mobile and his lack of fish-catching and “feels like the joke of the tuna fleet.”



To cement their joke status, they get their anchor hung up on a rock somewhere, which I guess is probably not a thing you’re supposed to do if you’re at all competent at this. As they’re trying to get it out *DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING* that one bag of hair is still like “boost! boost” and the rest of the crew is contemplating just kicking him into the sea and waiting a few hours to call the coast guard to report a man overboard. gets another tuna with the same hockey stick. CCM makes a quality hockey stick, apparently. They go back to Gloucester Harbor with two fish and make freakin’ $27,000 for one day of work and a $35 hockey stick. I AM IN THE WRONG BUSINESS. In the last segment of the episode, back at the Sambvca (worst liquor ever, btw), they finally get a fish hooked and land it, so Captain Accent and his brother are super happy. Episode’s over folks, move along. I feel like I am learning about fishing. J/K I am not.

Disclaimer: Despite poking gentle fun at the captains and crew of this show, we actually admire them very much – not only for their hard work, but for helping Gloucester get on the map for something interesting.

What Living in Downtown Gloucester is Really Like

For those who reside in East Gloucester, Annisquam, Bay View, Plum Cove, Lanesville, Rocky Neck, West Gloucester, or anywhere else within the city limits where you can actually hear crickets and you have more than 36 centimeters from your house to the house next to you, I salute you and your quaint, relaxing, country way of life.

But I fear you’re missing something quintessentially Gloucester by being in a relatively far-flung part of town. So here’s some of the stuff that happens downtown. Brace yourself.

Anonymous Trash Donations

A perennial favorite. Since our city’s switch to a pay-as-you-go trash system, there has been an unceasing number of fartknockers who just don’t feel the need to pay $2 to toss out all their garbage. As a result, they’ll just wing it wherever suits them. Since we’re only one generation removed from when people used to LITERALLY THROW THEIR GARBAGE IN THE HARBOR, it’s not particularly surprising that some folks have a diminished sense of personal responsibility when it comes to their trash.

Take that, ocean. What have you ever done for us, anyway?

Take that, ocean. What have you ever done for us, anyway?


Which means that if you reside in the downtown core, you will at some point be the recipient of anonymous trash donations. Errant nip bottles, McDonalds bags, empty packs of cigarettes, takeout containers, and sometimes larger, more maddening items. I once had a neighbor put empty refrigerator shelves in front of my house, like I hadn’t seen them previously in front of his house for two weeks. We live 2 houses down, bud, this isn’t exactly Unsolved Mysteries levels of sleuthing.


Also, old running shoes. Apparently. Wut.

Also, random pairs of running shoes. This literally happened two weeks ago.


Folks of Questionable Sobriety Milling About your Property

I don’t think anyone I know has escaped the sanity-questioning that results from looking out your window on a sunny afternoon and realizing there’s someone just ambling through your yard. It doesn’t matter that your yard is fully fenced and abuts a rocky cliff full of poisonous snakes, there’s still somebody staggering through your yard like it’s a cut through to the best packie on earth.

There's a girl in the garden.

There’s a girl in the garden.


One time a man entered my driveway and leaned against my kitchen window, 15 feet from the street. When I asked him if I could assist him in any way, he gave me a dirty look and told me he was making a phone call. Another time I took a gander outside on a sunny day, while pregnant and chasing a toddler, and realized that there was a man sleeping on a discarded mattress in the driveway across the street from mine. I mean, we all have the desperate urge for a nap (see “pregnant and chasing a toddler”, above) but even I of little dignity would refrain from putting a trash mattress in a random driveway and slipping into unconsciousness.


Petty Thievery

Along with the visits from the riffraff  mentioned above, items not lashed down in one’s yard tend to disappear not infrequently. Unlocked bikes are a pretty common thing to wander off downtown. We had a mountain bike go missing from our backyard, only to be found a year later at the end of our street, propped against a fire hydrant. In broad daylight, someone absconded with a ’60s Schwinn Town and Country adult tricycle with a top speed of .3 MPH and a ’70s women’s 3 speed which notably did not have working brakes and the loose handlebars would sway wildly side to side. I found the latter beside the train tracks on Maplewood Ave, which should surprise no one.

We’ve also had people steal a half-full can of wood stain from a coffee table project, an empty gas can missing its cap, a recycling bin, a quart of oil, and bike locks with the keys missing.

I can fit twelve gallons of stolen paint in the back.

I can fit 12 gallons of stolen paint in the back of this baby.

The Noise

City living also, quite obviously, produces a lot of noise. The houses are literally arm’s length apart, so you are all up in your neighbors’ business, whether you want to be or not.  Over the summer, I was awakened at 4 AM by a fight mere feet from my bedroom window in which two very inebriated girls in their early 20s were grappling with each other, pulling out hair, and eventually hitting each other with bricks as the police showed up.

It was not like this at all.

It was not like this at all.

I can hear neighbors talk inside their own houses from inside my house. There’s nothing like overhearing a heated spousal quarrel and thinking to yourself, “She is right about his drinking habits, but really, nagging won’t fix it.” There’s also random parades, random late night concerts, and the fortnightly midnight walking-while-screaming incidents.

But The Walkability!

Honestly, the relatively small drawbacks of city living I’ve mentioned above pale in comparison to how wonderful it is to live within 5 blocks of EVERYTHING. I can ride my bike or walk to almost every bar in town (some more questionable than others), and my 300-foot walk to work every day includes passing a cupcake shop, a dumpling place, a pizza place, and a taco joint. As well as a Dunkin Donuts without even needing to cross the street, naturally.  I live a 30-second jog to a full supermarket. I can wander over to a wine and cheese shop, any number of pizza places, Chinese food, CHINESE FOOD DRINKS, a tattoo parlor, thrift shops, paint store, graphics company, and a million other places that are absolutely worth visiting and patronizing.

And you know what? The neighbors are fantastic, even when I can overhear them fart in their sleep. We have a vibrant downtown community of artists, teachers, commuters, and people who care. Families with kids riding bikes on the same street where someone overdosed last week. Because the perseverance is still there. This is not a community of people who give up and move out or throw up their hands and let the underbelly of the opiate problem win. And you know what? It’s awesome. Move downtown. Do it.



Snark Free Sunday

Greetings Camistas! Clamuniards? Clamunists? Let us know what we should call you.

As commanded by the major Abrahamic religions, it’s critical to have a day of rest. A day set apart from the others to recharge our batteries and reflect. For instance we are going to spend most of the afernoon with a big book of clam puns preparing for the week ahead.

too forced?

too forced?

So, let us take this beautiful Sunday and endeavor to revel in the wonder that is life without feeling the need to strike out at others even though they probably richly deserve it. Let’s see what we have in the Clam Box.

Hey! Here are a series of awesome photos from the Mad Hot Ball a couple of weeks ago! Taken by Martin Del Vecchio these are the incredible shots that should have been in the paper but weren’t because… oh yes. Sorry. Forgetting ourselves here. Click the pic to check ’em out!

awesome kids being awesome

awesome kids being awesome

The other thing to take note of, and I’m sure it will be in a wide variety of media but it deserves as much attention as possible, is that our amazing local restaurant Duckworth’s is in the Globe. Click the photo, you can almost taste it.

ohhhhh yes

ohhhhh yes

Duckworths is more than a restaurant, it’s become a hub for writers and lectures from the Eastern Point Lit House [event tonight: Margaret Young leads a discussion on Kurlansky’s The Last Fish Tale] and the way they have created a community between themselves, their staff and Gloucester at large is a testament to our philosophy that we are on this Earth to make cool shit happen.

OK, that’s enough of that. Tomorrow it’s back into the snark tank.

Gloucester Responds to The Clam

So, we’ve been up for just a few days and already more than 12 thousand hits. This is more than can be accounted for just by a simple batch of bad meth causing people to mash their keyboards uncontrollably and unintentionally landing on our URL, which was our original hypotheses. It seems folks really want the voice that is “The Clam” in the Gloucester mix.

No one has ever accused us of being a sensible people, I guess.

Looking at our frankly unbelievable site stats we see that global citizens have linked to The Clam from over 20 countries, including almost the entire English speaking world (Screw you, New Zealand!) and we’ve received tons of feedback:

I don’t think I get it

Clams live in muck and feed on filth

Howard Blackburn was NOT married to Ann Landers

I find the crude language to be distasteful

I wish that horse would stop yelling

Cpt. Blackburn giving us the finger

Cpt. Blackburn giving us the finger

There has been incredibly positive feedback as well. Our tires have yet to be slashed, for instance so we’re taking that as a good sign.

We’ve got a lot planned, suggestions are pouring in. We did a podcast with Joey over at Good Morning Gloucester at like seven this morning because Joey apparently never sleeps which was hilarious for us and sort of a Gloucester bucket list check-off. People are stopping us on the street and on the train and our Facebook page has been growing steadily.

click for half an hour of two dudes talking about  blogging if you have no life

click for half an hour of two dudes talking about blogging if you have no life

All in all, things in the nascent Clam media empire are taking off and this is all due to the folks who’ve read, forwarded, shared, pondered and laughed along with our introductory pieces. We can’t thank you all enough and hopefully we can continue to be a voice that people want in the mix.

Oh, also we have an Ann Landers Cpt. Blackburn erotica site in the works. Working title: “Codpiece”

Clammers, out  –KT, JD, soon to be others